Expert offers best practices for digital marketing
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State senior extension associate Sarah Cornelisse recently shared her expertise on digital marketing with a webinar highlighting the best marketing practices for the popular electronic devices on the internet.
Covering websites, email newsletters, social media and e-commerce, Cornelisse stressed staying current with consumer trends and technology.
She observed that digital marketing has not only been increasing, the usage has amplified during the current COVID-19 crisis.
With the goal of a consistent brand presence, she said marketers should know and understand their audience and their expectations.
She illustrated the importance of websites, with the knowledge that visitors stay on a website about 15 seconds, plus 40 percent of website visitors exit a site if it takes more than three seconds to load.
Numerous website practices can increase marketing success. Cornelisse suggested simplicity by avoiding unnecessary or extraneous material, and making the site easily navigable and accessible. Keeping the site conventional can also facilitate the design.
New technology affects design. She advised taking advantage of the current trends.
She compared two web pages, and asked of one, “Does it look like 2001 or does it look like 2020?” The information on one may be accurate but the right picture usage made the other one look current.
White space enhances readability—too much text can look cramped and can overwhelm. Also, avoid fonts such as script and Old English, and do not use too many fonts. Coordinate colors with the brand. Photos and videos can enhance but she cautioned, “Don’t go overboard.”
The website should contain background data, contact information, and a call to action ‘above the fold’ as in newspapers. The products, services, and a social media link, plus a map or location data must be included.
Search engine optimization also is important. The trends include video—Google rates are higher with video. Local is sought. Keywords continue to be significant, with content featuring expertise, authority, and trustworthiness in demand. Fewer keywords are now used, but greater depth is appearing.
The 59 percent of people who say that e-mail marketing influences their purchasing decisions underscores the importance of emails.
However, the average open rate for the industry is only 21.33 percent. Agriculture and food services fare slightly better—23.1 percent.
Obviously, improvement is vital. Cornelisse suggested using an engaging subject line and quality content, plus striving for a personalized feel. In addition, if using a service such as Mail Chimp, be sure to clean the recipient list. Make sure your company name is in the line as well.
To increase email opening, she suggested using only one call to action, be focused, offer something the recipient didn’t know they needed, encourage feedback, and use content that is scannable. Few sentences, bullet points, plus highlighting and redirecting to the site can be effective.
Cornelisse pointed out that social media usage by millennials is 47 percent. While usage by age varies, younger people lead. The trends show local, social service, and nurture trust are targeted. To tap into the influencer market, she noted that 92 percent trust recommendations of friends and family. Plus, 67 percent are more likely to purchase a product after a friend shared it on social media.
She indicated the best practices for social media were keeping the profile up-to-date including the hours open, contact information of phone and email addresses, the availability of products and whether seasonal, and action buttons for Instagram, Facebook and more, plus graphics are accessible.
Using stories to direct users to the e-commerce platform and website add interest to users. Also giving them features to look for enhances traffic.
E-commerce has risen dramatically.
The third quarter of 2019 showed a gain of 21 percent. Before the coronavirus pandemic, retail sales were forecast to rise 17.5 percent by 2021. Many figures in some areas excel that already.
Online shopping is for far more than products—appointments, tickets, etc. are readily purchased. Cornelisse related that navigation should be understandable and easy to find.
Descriptions, photos, videos, reviews and easy checkouts should be clear. Product pages can show complementary products to demonstrate usages.
Personalizing newsletters, photos and analytic data often augment the data presented. Cornelisse cautioned that copyrights to photos must be handled correctly. In addition, she noted that responsiveness is important—be aware of the need to acknowledge one’s inbox.
Cornelisse advised building a community, not an audience. Learn about their interests and what inspires them.
Planning includes identifying what to accomplish and how to measure it. She urged focusing and not trying too much too soon, and doing well before trying different tools.
Overall, Cornelisse emphasized building cohesive user experiences. Consistency across platforms with designs, voice, and responsiveness should be a goal.
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